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Diagnosis of hypothyroidism

Physical examination

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The diagnosis of hypothyroidism starts with basic physical examination. First the person needs to check the size of the thyroid gland. It may at times reveal a smaller than normal thyroid gland. However, this test is not absolute in nature as a patient suffering from hypothyroidism may have a normal size or even enlarged (goiter) thyroid gland.

Physical examination may also reveal symptoms like:

  • Brittle nails
  • Coarse facial features
  • Pale or dry skin
  • Swelling of the arms and legs
  • Thin and brittle hair

Laboratory tests

Laboratory tests that are used to determine hypothyroidism are:

Chest X-ray: A chest x-ray is conducted to reveal an enlarged heart caused by hypothyroidism.

T4 test: T4 or thyroxin is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Since hypothyroidism is the condition when the blood lacks the necessary amount of thyroid hormones, a measure of the amount of T4 in the blood reveals whether the person is suffering from hypothyroidism or not.

Serum TSH: Serum TSH is used to measure the amount of TSH in the blood. TSH is a thyroid stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary gland. TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce and release hormones thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

Next page: Treatment of hypothyroidsm

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: July 31, 2012